Although the United States is waging many wars of aggression on its conscience, that does not justify Mr. Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. Dozens of our mistakes do not entitle him to do such a thing. Russia was wrong to invade. She made too many mistakes: 1) she underestimated the Ukrainian resistance; 2) overestimated the ability of the army to achieve its goal; 3) underestimated the reaction of Europe, especially Germany, which increased its military contribution to NATO, which it resisted for some 20 years; even Switzerland joined the sanctions. Russia will be isolated more than ever by the West; 4) underestimated the enhanced strength of NATO, which will now put even more pressure on Russia’s borders; 5) probably pushed Ukraine into NATO; 6) underestimated the damage to its own economy and certainly created greater resistance within its borders; 7) initiated a major reconfiguration of power within its oligarchic class; 8) used cluster and vacuum bombs; and 9) underestimated the power of social networks around the world.
But we have to ask ourselves – how could Putin save people in Donetsk and Luhansk who speak Russian? There is no doubt that the Russian government could have done a better job of showing the eight-year suffering of these people and refugees there to the global public – as well as making it known to the world that Ukraine had amassed 110,000 troops on the Donetsk and Luhansk borders. Russia has amassed its troops. But the West has far more media power than Russia.
Or, perhaps, Putin should have handed over the two renegade provinces and offered help for 1-3 million people to move to Russia. In that case, the world might better understand the aggression of the Ukrainian government. But again, I’m not sure.
However, it is too late now. Putin first allowed himself to be lured into a trap set by the United States, then consciously bit the bait and resorted to military force, thus encouraging the worst conclusions that the West can draw. I think Putin has probably given up on the West, and that brings us to a situation where the final conflict is closer than ever.
Looks like there’s no going back from here. The only ones who are happy about this outcome are Russian nationalists and the legion of Russophobes who finally got what they dreamed of for years, including Biden, the Pentagon, the CIA, the EU, NATO, the mainstream media and of course neoconservative villains from Washington. gathered around Victoria Nuland. This will significantly strengthen the biggest hawks in the eyes of the (American) public. Pointing out the toxicity of their policies (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, NATO enlargement, violating nuclear agreements, censoring and omitting key facts from the news, etc.) will be almost impossible. Pointing to the double standards of the West, including the behavior of Kiev and Zelensky, will also be ignored, because we are again making wrong conclusions.
It is now easy to slander all of us who have been trying to understand Russia’s position for the past two decades. We tried. But now is the time for the two nuclear powers to sit down at the negotiating table and take a step back from the edge of the abyss, as when Kennedy and Khrushchev faced a dangerous situation in Cuba in October 1962. Both sides must preserve the cheek.
This is not the time for the United States to celebrate. As a veteran of the Vietnam War and as a man who witnessed endless antagonism in the Cold War, I can say that demonizing and humiliating foreign leaders is not a policy that can bring success. It only makes the situation worse. Secret negotiations are necessary, because whatever happens in the next few days or weeks, the possibility of war between the United States and Russia must be seriously understood and taken into account. Who can do that? Are there any real statesmen among us? I hope it could be Macron. We need people like Metternich, Thaleran, Averell Harriman, George Schultz, James Baker and Mikhail Gorbachev.
The great tragedy of our time is the loss of a truly peaceful partnership between the United States and Russia – potentially China – for which there was no reason other than the American desire for domination. The idiots who continued to provoke Russia after the end of the Cold War in 1991 committed a terrible crime against humanity and the future. Together, our countries could be natural allies in the greatest battle of all – the one against climate change. If nothing else, in the technical achievements and great successes of science, in the rocket and heavy industry, including the most modern reactors of pure nuclear energy, Russia has been a great friend to mankind.
But alas – the man of our time has not yet managed to see or reach the stars.
Translated by Radomir Jovanović / New Standard
Cover photo: AP Photo / Amr Nabil